Joba Chamberlain was on an innings limit last year to preserve his young arm. This year, assuming he wins the 5th starter's job, he'll have no innings limit.
What if he doesn't win the job?
I was all for the way they treated Joba last season. I had no problem with them having him pitch three innings here and four innings there. I wasn't one of those people who kept saying, "Let Joba pitch!" I didn't think the Yankees were messing with his career. I didn't think he was being jerked around. I didn't think the Joba Rules were crazy. But, if he doesn't get the job I will think they were crazy. The Joba Rules will have all been for naught.
Isn't 2010 what the Joba Rules were for in the first place, building up his innings so that he can pitch without holding back in the future? The future is now, but Joba might be left in the past and, instead of Joba pitching without an innings limit, we'll be subjected to the Hughes Rules (because Phil Hughes will need an innings limit, too), and Joba will be back in the bullpen, having gone through what he went through in 2009 for nothing.
Now, I know Joba's not in danger of losing the 5th starter's job because of the one bad Spring Training outing he had last week. That's not the point of this post. (Trying to avoid unnecessary comments or emails here.) I also know that anything can happen; any of the first four starters could get hurt and both Joba and Hughes could be in the rotation But whatever happens, there's a chance that we'll all have to experience the Hughes Rules in 2010.
Are we ready?